Cursive – I Am Gemini
by Christopher Stoppiello (English), published February 29th 2012
Moldy | Stale | Edible | Fresh | Tasty!
Fellow English majors rejoice! Cursive’s latest album, I Am Gemini, finally puts those Backgrounds to British and American Literature classes to use. Tim Kasher and company are known for their concept albums, in which a repeating theme is thread throughout the album, but Gemini shows the band honing their skills on a much more grandiose stage.
I Am Gemini is the tale of Cassius, a reformed criminal, who inherits a home from his unknown biological parents. Upon his first inspection he finds it quite haunted by Angels, Devils, and his estranged twin brother, Pollack.
Now the literary minded would already be recalling the Greek and Roman myth of the twin brothers Castor and Pollux, who upon their death were joined in the heavens as the constellation Gemini. The most important thing to recall from that myth is that the twins are brothers from the same mother but do not share a father. Castor is born completely of mortals but Pollux is the product of Zeus disguising himself as a swan to rape the mortal Leda.
This is the dark history that the band points to for their own characters in the final scene of the album. “Soon as you were born, you were aborted/ Cast away/ Child of moral doctrine and rape / Lord knows, the monsters that marriage makes” summates the narrator at the conclusion of this grim tale. It’s a captivating story and one that is easy to get lost in, but let me back up and talk about the music for a second.
Completely left out from this album are the horns that were so distinct on Cursive’s past two releases. It is a much heavier showing from the band and more similar to Cursive’s Domestica than any of the releases in between. Despite being so guitar heavy, guitarist Ted Stevens manages to keep his guitar tones just varied enough to bring something different from song to song. The bands long running knack for distinct and driving rhythms combined with their gift as raconteurs makes for an extremely consuming album.
What is excellent about this album is that it manages to remain concise in its concept. Few are the music fans still interested in a massive double album, à la Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Smartly, Cursive has managed to tell a complete story in under 45 minutes without half-assing it, producing another Mylo Xyloto. In fact Cursive was so complete in their crafting of this as a ‘long-play’ album that the two acts of the story are perfectly divided between the two sides of a record, affording a nice intermission in between acts. Along with your vinyl you will get a booklet, designed in the vein of Playbill, containing lyrics assigned to characters along with stage directions to fill in the action during instrumentals. The same booklet came as a PDF with my digital download and I would imagine it is included with the CD booklet as well, as a great deal of the story is contained within those pages. Also, purchasing the vinyl directly from saddle-creek.com will include that album as a CD and digital download as well.
I Am Gemini is just as much “Les Misérables” as London Calling. It is a gothic short story that has more in common with Edgar Allen Poe than any contemporary pop musician. I recommend picking up this album on vinyl and spending a great deal of time with it alone in the dark.
Recommended Tracks: The Cat and Mouse, The Sun and Moon